Barry Kent MacKayArt by Barry Kent MacKay
Art and Photo Presentation

In this section are copies of original works of art. All of them are dedicated to helping us live according to unconditional love and compassion, which is the foundation of our peaceful means of bringing true and lasting peace to all of God's creatures, whether they are human beings or other animals.

Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)
(Artwork - 132)
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)


Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus)

In my early childhood this species was magical to me as it would appear each winter in large numbers at the bird feeders in the garden of my maternal grandmother, Marie Freeman. She, with long-suffering patience, allowed my mother, who had a bird-banding permit, and me, then a child, to capture individual birds from the flock and place government-issue aluminum bands on them in the hope learning more about their mysterious travels. The birds appeared most winters, but unpredictably, and it was unclear where they came from or whether there would be many or few. They were insatiably attracted to sunflower seeds with which we baited harmless live-traps. As to not hurt them we did not wear gloves, bare hands being more sensitive to feel and more proficient, making the catching of them a painful experience as their powerful beaks often drew blood. They were magical by virtue of their bright colours that seemed to glow amid the bleak colours of winter, filling the yard with colour, brightness and their distinctive call notes.

That was in the 1950s and my beloved reference book, P. A. Taverner's Birds of Canada (published in 1937) and the adult ornithologists and birders of my acquaintance, all assured me that the grosbeaks were a western species, breeding only as far east as the remote boreal forests of northwestern Ontario. But the belief was that they were expanding their breeding range eastward, which was indeed correct. They have now reached the east coast as a regular breeding species. But we have somewhat lost them as a wintering bird here in the Greater Toronto Area. They show up at bird feeders in winter from time to time but not in the large numbers I remember from my childhood.

Last February my friend, seal biologist David Lavigne, and I drove up to Algonquin Park, and there, at the feeders set out around the park museum, we saw flocks of these birds, a type of hawfinch, flocking the way I remembered seeing, and hearing, them when I was a kid. I particularly remember the "tiffs" as we called them, when two birds would challenge each other for a perch, with brief squabbles that never led to any real conflict. I wanted to show a range of poses so took a little artistic liberty in placing eight birds in the kind of close proximity they normally would more likely show at feeders, than in tree branches where there is more room, and I also included a "squabble" among male birds at the bottom of the painting.

Females are gorgeous in their own right with soft grays suffused with tinges of yellow, and nicely patterned black and white wings.
The birds are painted approximately life size and done in acrylics on a 23 by 18 inch Russian birch gessoed panel mounted on a basswood frame.

Iíve also included a painting I did, on paper, back in 2007, of the same species, ten years ago, and a pen and ink study from more than twenty years ago.

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Copyright © Barry Kent MacKay
Barry describes himself as a Canadian artist/writer/naturalist.
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